The Golden Wok was crowded, but Diana was seated shortly in a booth at the rear of the rather large restaurant. The tables were spacious while the booths tended to be on the cozy side and the usual Chinese lanterns were in abundance, but unobtrusive as they were hung high off the ceiling so people wouldn't bump into them.
Kent hadn't arrived yet, and she found herself hoping that he would be there soon. Partly because she wanted to get this over with and partly because she found that she was very hungry, since she hadn't had any lunch and breakfast was an apple she grabbed from the hotel lobby as she left for her meeting. She informed the smiling waitress that she was waiting on someone, so the young lady simply nodded and left a couple of menus on the table and went back to taking care of her other customers.
Looking around the crowded room, she saw what she expected to see in an eatery in a busy city. There were some families, laughing as they watched each other trying to use their chopsticks. Other tables were filled with people still in business attire. They must have been working late, because they all looked tired and no laughter came from those tables. The patrons ran the gamut from well-dressed to jeans and t-shirts.
Having satisfied her curiosity about the Golden Wok's clientele, Diana opened one of the menus to get a head start on ordering.
As Clark entered the restaurant, he noted that it was just a little more crowded than usual tonight. Fortunately, the service was excellent even when it was very busy, so he didn't have to worry about wasting time waiting for their food. On the way over he decided that he would just tell Perry that there really was no story here. He would just have a nice (and quick) dinner with Ms. Prince, apologize for wasting her time, and call it a night. Perry wouldn't like it, but then, Perry didn't like a lot of things. He'd get over this one.
Clark had no idea what Ms. Prince looked like, but a quick sweep of the place showed that all of the tables and booths were full, except for one in the back. That booth had a lone occupant; a woman he could see was tall. That was about all he got to see since her head was buried in a menu and the owner of the restaurant, Mr. Han, chose that moment to welcome his frequent customer.
"Ah, Mr. Kent. It's nice to see you, as always. We seem to be full tonight, but as soon as a table opens up, we can seat you."
"Thank you, Mr. Han, but I'm meeting someone and she's already been seated in the back." Mr. Han smiled politely at this, wished one of his favorite—and frequent—diners a good evening and excused himself.
As Clark walked towards the back he was slowed by some of the other regulars who wanted to say hello as he passed. With a nod and a wave to each—he hated to be rude—
He finally made it to the table. It seemed that Ms. Prince was engrossed in the menu, so with a discreet clearing of his throat, he began, "Ms. Prince, I presume? Hi, I'm Clark Kent." Abruptly, she set the menu down as she looked up at him. About to speak, the words died on her lips.
Sky blue eyes locked onto sea blue eyes. Her eyes widened in shock and his jaw gaped.
After a moment, they both began speaking at once.
"Glad to meet you Mr.—"
"Nice to meet you Ms.—"
How did he hide that forelock? His glasses were a little diverting and he seemed a bit hunched over, but other than that, talk about hiding in plain sight! And he works in a newsroom too? Unbelievable!
"Please, call me Clark, Ms.—"
"Please call me Diana, Mr.—"
Yes, the drab clothes are an okay disguise, but how could anyone not see…? Those eyes are a dead giveaway no matter how thick the glasses. And she works for the government?
An awkward silence followed as each awaited the other to speak again. Not only did they instantly pierce each others' disguise, they both realized at the same instant that the other had done the same. Her eyes began to glisten with mirth and finally Clark could hold on no longer. He laughed as he went to sit down, and by the time he was seated they were both laughing. And now their server had arrived again. She calmly waited as her two customers' laughter finally subsided. They ordered appetizers and drinks, and soon the waitress was gone and they were alone. Well, as alone as they could get in a crowded restaurant.
"Well, Clark, it appears that today is a day of surprises."
"I certainly agree with that, Diana, though I can definitely say that you're the most pleasant surprise of my day. Umm, what I mean is…" He couldn't finish the sentence and he wanted to kick himself for sounding like an idiot. Good job, Kent, you're living up to that country bumpkin image you've worked so hard at. She must think you're a complete idiot. Having looked into her eyes, he could see how easy it was to feel stupid. He had seen intelligence in her earlier, but having looked again he could see it was more than that. It was wisdom, too. He could see where that could be intimidating, but for some reason it wasn't. At least, not to him. It just made him more curious to know more.
By the gods, he was actually blushing! Diana felt a pang of desire. Not physical, but a desire to know. To know more about this intriguing superman. One moment spent looking into his eyes and she felt that she knew a lot about him already. He exuded honesty and trustworthiness and understanding and she'd be damned if she knew how he did it. There was much to this man that was easily seen on the surface, but that wasn't enough. She wanted to know more than that. Much more. She was just at a loss to explain why she wanted to know.
"Thank you, Clark. I'll take that as a compliment", she smiled, trying to ease his discomfort.
Clark managed to gather himself sufficiently, and found that he was much more at ease in her company than he expected to be, especially after that first smooth move of his. No matter how clichéd it sounded, it felt as if they had been friends for a long time. He felt himself relax, as he changed the subject.
"Diana, about that story…Well, honestly, I don't see it as something worth pursuing, so if you wish to leave, I'll understand."
"Good. Since you won't be doing the story, this will be purely social. We have a lot to talk about and I have no intention of letting you go for awhile." She couldn't believe she just said that. "First, however, I haven't eaten much today and I'm starving. Since you obviously eat here often, would you be so kind as to recommend something?"
The appetizers came and went. That was soon followed by a series of excellent main courses that kept them from talking too much. They both knew that they couldn't talk here about the things that they were dying to, so they made small talk as they ate. A little later, both of them were satisfied that they couldn't eat another bite.
"Can we go someplace to talk?"
"Sounds like a great idea. When and where?"
"Well, I have to make a few patrols over the city tonight, but how about 10 o'clock back at the park?"
"Sounds perfect", she said as she reached for her purse. "Dutch treat?"
"Well, if you don't mind, it would be better if I paid for it."
"Oh? And why is that?"
He noted her arched eyebrow before answering. "Technically, I'm on an assignment to interview you for that conference, so this goes on my expense account and my editor checks my accounts. So, if you let me pay this time, you'll be doing me a favor and save me from a tongue lashing from my editor. Tell you what, though, if you would like to do this again sometime, you can pay for that one. Is it a deal?"
With a wry smile, she answered, "Is this just another way of getting a second date? That excuse sounds pretty bad, you must admit."
"I never lie, Diana, and I certainly wouldn't waste time trying to hand you a line." He held her eye as he said it, and she didn't doubt him. She could imagine him lying in order to save someone, but she couldn't believe that he would lie for any other reason. It was strange, even for her, to feel so certain about someone she so recently met, but there were things that she knew about this man but could not explain how she knew. "I will admit that I'd like to do this again, though."
"I get to pay the tip" she said in response, as she got up to go.
Outside the restaurant, she touched his arm. "Clark, would you like some company on your patrol? I don't really have anything else to do tonight and we can get a head-start on our conversation. After patrol, we can go to the park if you'd like."
There was that boyish grin she was growing so fond of. "I was hoping you'd say that."
Taking his arm in hers, they walked along to find a private place to change. As they strolled silently down the lighted streets, they were wrapped up in their thoughts. Two minds came to the same silent conclusion: It's going to be a beautiful night.
A short time later, in a city that was used to the lone figure of Superman patrolling their nighttime skies, there were now two figures silhouetted across the Metropolis skyline. It was the first time, but probably not the last.